Earlier this week ULI awarded our Beijing Finance Street project with their Award of Excellence. Beijing Finance Street is a 3.36 million-square-meter (36.2 million-sf) mixed-use development that features offices, luxury hotels, retail space, and apartments organized around a meandering central park. For me, this award is confirmation of the importance of this project type. ULI understands this completely. The organization has long recognized the value that landscape plays in framing the public realm in dense urban environments.
What makes Beijing Finance Street a complex project type is the deep connection of public open space to structure and infrastructure. While it’s nothing new to many Asian cities, we are only beginning to see this kind of development in the US. Projects like the World Trade Center in NY, Jack London Square in Oakland, Chicago’s Millennium Park and City Center in Salt Lake City. These projects demand closer-than-usual working relationships with the architect. In my experience, some architects have a hard time with this, but this project scenario requires that landscape architects are allowed to take over the scope of work as we detail the hardscapes over their structures. As a result the two professions learn to rely on one another. Strong form benefits from a strong landscape and the landscape is enhanced by the structure of good architecture.